PULLMAN — Last week, I stopped by the new City Sports store in Pullman and spotted a ridiculously good sale on Derrick Rose's signature Adidas shoes: Buy one pair, get another for a $1.
This was either a great deal for D-Rose fans or a sign the former NBA MVP's brand had weakened like his injury-plagued knees that have kept him off the court for much of two seasons.
When I asked the City Sports manager about the sale — and whether it was triggered by a surplus of D-Rose's shoes — he got a little defensive.
The sale had nothing to do with whether Rose is "a good player or bad player." A "sale is a sale … and that's all," he said before politely shooing me away.
I called sports marketing guru Marc Ganis to get his take on the buy-one-get-one giveaway.
"It's an indication [the retailer] has more shoes in stock than they can sell," Ganis said.
"Unfortunately it's a reflection directly on the value that Derrick Rose's name brings to a brand that's as fundamental as basketball shoes. In many ways, what you're seeing is the market shortening, and the value is dropping for Derrick Rose."
Indeed, Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said in a recent investor conference call that the company had taken a hit due to "lower growth [than] expected in Adidas basketball due to the unfortunate injury of our star athlete Derrick Rose."
I stopped to ask David Robinson, a manager at St. Alfred, the hip sneaker-head shop in Wicker Park, if D-Rose's Adidas had fallen out of favor with Chicago gym shoe aficionados.
"I have noticed we don't get calls for his shoes anymore. I also don't see many people [wearing] them as I used to," he said. "Not having Rose around and visible with his shoes, it fades a bit in light of the constant releases from LeBron, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, since a basketball player's signature shoes are tied to them and what they do on the court."
I reached out to Adidas company spokeswoman Madeline Bresklin to get specifics about this perceived slip in sales for the D-Rose brand, which the sneaker company agreed to pay the Bulls star $200 million to endorse.
Bresklin would say only that Rose-brand shoes "continue to be good."
Ganis, though, said he thinks Adidas is taking a beating on the Rose endorsement.
"They're getting their a-- kicked on that deal, too. But don't cry for Adidas. They're big boys and girls, and they understand this happens," Ganis said.
"Derrick can bounce back. He's still young, still playing in a great market, he's very visible, and the team is doing well. The reason that's relevant is if he can come back strong, the way the Bulls are developing, he could be the last piece to make it a championship-caliber team. And he could be back."
When Bresklin emailed me back, it was only to let me know that all my inquiry did was rat out City Sports — and ruin a great deal on Derrick Rose shoe fans on a budget.
"The retailer did this promotion on their own, without our knowledge, and the promotion has since stopped," she said. "Hope that helps."